Friday, May 22, 2015

The First of Many

My 2016 MDSW shawl looks like this. That's the first spindle full being wound off onto a paper you-know-what-tube. I'll be filling it up all summer and then starting a new one in the fall for plying.

It's going to be so pretty. Nothing measures out the years of my life like my Sheep and Wool shawls. I'm either spinning one, knitting one or for one glorious day, wearing one. The circle of life.....

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Family That Soaps Together

 I talked The Mister into playing with soap with me. First we took a trip to the grocery store for some cheapo ingredients.

 I let him pick out the colors and smells from my ever growing soap stash. He picked orange-color and fragrance. He liked weighing out the oils. He wasn't even afraid of the lye.

 He handled the stick blender like a pro.

 He wanted lots of orange and that's what he got using some Annatto Seed powder. I'm still trying to get it off of stuff. It's pretty powerful. A little goes a long way. This may be self tanning soap.

 I showed him how to do some fancy mica swirls on the top with some squirt bottles of color and a bamboo skewer.

Look at that mess. I'm happy we did this outside. Now we have to wait a few days to see what he made.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Some Socks

 Soap, soap,'s seems like it's all I post about but there is knitting going on. I've got socks at the toe decreases....

...and socks at the heel turn. Life is good.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tea Time

 It's finally time to cut the terrible tea soap.

 Gloves are still a must. The lye is still active for several weeks. I need to get some test strips to check the safety of it. Thank you Valerie for reminding me of that. I don't want to burn the skin off my bones.

 It popped out of the mold pretty easily but I can see that the ground tea I added to the soap batter has bled all over the place. I used way too much and I forgot that the hot lye would continue to cook the leaves as it sat in the mold heating up for several hours. Ugh. At first I thought it was something called Dreaded Orange Spot but it's not, thank goodness. That's a whole other issue. The real problem here is me not doing my homework before getting too creative. I should have steeped it first and then added it in. Instead I cooked my tea leaves in the hot lye while it sat and processed. You live and learn.

At least I remembered to put it in the soap cutter upside down so the whole tea leaves on top wouldn't leave drag marks.

It's not too soft or too hard and it didn't crumble. I think I made soap. Ugly soap but soap.

 I also don't see any evidence that I swirled the colors. I poured green on one side and white on the other then had at them with the knitting needle but you can't see any evidence of that except for the dragging of the burnt tea leaves. At least it smells good.

Now it has to sit on my new drying rack and cure for 4-6 weeks while that lye works its way out and it hardens. It didn't turn out as I had hoped but it wasn't a complete fail if I take into consideration how much I learned about what NOT to do. Thank goodness I played it safe with my last two batches. I can't wait to cut them.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Three Days

 Friday, Saturday and Sunday were all mine. The Mister was at his mother's doing some 24/7 care and I was alone. All alone. I am never alone.  It was supposed to be nine whole days in a row but it got pared down to only three at a time when other family members stepped in to help.

There was lots of late night soap making. I could make as much of a mess as I wanted whenever I wanted. It was heaven. This one is sea clay and mint.

 This was baby buttermilk with carrot puree. Using frozen buttermilk with the lye was quite an adventure but I think I nailed it. I have to wait a week to cut this one as it's almost an all olive oil soap and will take a long while to harden.

I lived on salad and cherries. The Mister is a bad influence on my eating habits. He wasn't back here an hour before I was eating the potato chips, Chinese food and cake he brought home.

Having said that,  in his absence I did manage to finish off most of my Mother's Day chocolate.

I did some carding out on the deck in the early morning hours. That's the way to start the day.

 The warp got finished in the quiet of the evening. It's tied on now and ready for weaving.

 Paloma and I got reacquainted. I love this old guitar.

 In anticipation of my little staycation I had bought three books by my favorite author but never got around to reading them.

 I saw the newest edition of one of my favorite series at the library and read it instead.

There was also some afternoon stitching while I finished up my latest audiobook. The Mister wasn't back in the house ten minutes on Sunday when the whole dynamic of the place shifted back from blissful calm to chaos. Sigh... The good news is that he's going back Wednesday and staying until Friday. Good times.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Fiberlicious 3

 The Loop batt is officially a done deal. It was a late night fight to the finish.

 I was doing a happy dance the next morning when I washed it and laid it out to dry.

 It was a looooong spin. Six ounces is too much for me at one time. I lost interest several ounces ago.

It really is a pretty thing though. Too bad I was not loving it when I was at the MDSW a couple of weeks ago because I walked right past their booth without a second look. Now I'm sorry. I could have looked for a smaller one. What was I thinking? These things are hard to come by.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

A Tale of Terror

 I have never been so scared in my life and it all started with a little tea.

 I had set up the deck like a mini science lab earlier because I was planning on making some soap-the old fashioned way.

 Mixing the colors was easy enough. It's chamomile powder and a little oil. I also used some titanium dioxide. That makes soap white. My plan here was for a green and white swirl.

Weighing out the fragrance wasn't too terrible although I did learn my scale stinks. I had to order a new one because it just couldn't handle the exact amount down to four decimal places thing.

 Even measuring out this chemical stuff wasn't a problem. It helps harden the soap so it releases from silicone molds. If you don't use it, you have to line them.

 Heating the oil was no different than warming any other liquid in the microwave. You just have to keep checking the temperature.

 I was still somewhat calm when I gathered all my ingredients together and headed out of the kitchen and onto the deck.

That is when the fear took over. I had to mix lye with water. It was terrifying. The Internet is full of horror stories about what could happen if you do it the wrong way. To perform this action I was suited up like Dustin Hoffman in Outbreak. I should have had The Mister take a photo. Next time.

I lived through it and managed to mix the oil and the lye when they had reached about 120 degrees without creating a nuclear cloud or burning the house down. I did discover that making a small batch is hard with a stick blender. I had a lot of air bubbles because I couldn't keep the blade submerged. I need a better bowl. Next time.

 Working quickly, because it all starts to thicken before you know it, I whisked in some green tea fragrance, the chamomile color, and some ground tea leaves into half the batter. The other half got the whitener. Later I learned that I was using the wrong kind of whisks, aluminum and lye is a no no. I have since replaced them with silicone ones.

 I used an old orphan doublepoint to do some fancy swirls and I should have stopped here.

Instead I dumped some tea leaves on top which is a look I wasn't too fond of. Now I have to wait 48 hours before unmolding it to see if I actually made soap. The suspense is killing me. My measuring wasn't perfect so I have worries. Is it going to be a sticky mess? Is it going to be hard and crumbly? Only time will tell........